Ukraine imposed balance-of-payments safeguard measures at the beginning of March. On 3 March Ukraine adopted a temporary increase of import duties of between 5-10 percent for 12 months, regardless of the country of origin of the goods and preferential trade agreements concluded by Ukraine.
While the safeguard measures on porcelain tableware and kitchenware will soon enter their penultimate year in Russia and similar measures are in their second year in Ukraine, another EU neighbour is challenging the tableware sector. Turkey initiated a safeguard investigation on 25 April on porcelain and non-porcelain tableware and kitchenware imports. Cerame-Unie and its European tableware federation FEPF registered as an interested party and sent the investigating authorities a reply to the questionnaire calling for a more appropriate trade defence measure rather that imposing the measure on all countries erga omnes. All case-related documents are available on the Turkish Ministry of Economy website and Cerame-Unie is in contact with the European Commission and several Member States on this case.
In December 2014, Saudi Arabian authorities required each tile to bear the name or trademark of the manufacturers. This was not in conformity with the voluntary ISO and EN standards. Although many containers were blocked in mid-late December, thanks to an effective cooperation between the industry and national and EU delegations in the capital city of Riyadh, these non-tariff barriers have now been lifted. The industry remains vigilant and monitors the situation, as there is still lack of clarity for business operators regarding which standards will be effectively required in the future.
Ecuador adopted safeguard measures consisting of import tariffs of 5-45% on approximately 32% of products in March. The Ecuadorian measures will remain in place for 15 months, after which they will gradually be phased out. These measures target some raw materials and imported consumer goods, including ceramic tiles, which will be subject to duty of 25% (in addition to the existing duties ranging from 5% + 0.14 USD/Kg to 25% depending on the product classification). Cerame-Unie intervened on this issue at the Market Access Advisory Committee meeting as well as at the meeting between DG Trade and the CU Trade Working Group.
The European Commission signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with Ecuador on 12 December 2014, which will hopefully bring a swift reduction in tariffs for ceramic tiles exported to Ecuador.
Brazil's federal government published Provisional Measure No 668/2015, which increases the general rates of PIS and COFINS (social taxes) on the importation of goods from 9.25% to 11.75% as of 1 May 2015 for a selected range of products. Cerame-Unie is eager to know the results of the European Commission’s legal assessment of the WTO compatibility of such measures.